By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
As Joe Alleva promised, LSU will play a home game on Nov. 19 — but not against South Alabama.
Florida has agreed to come to Baton Rouge on the season’s penultimate Saturday to make up the game postponed due to Hurricane Matthew, the Southeastern Conference confirmed Thursday.
LSU and Florida will buy out games against Sun Belt opponents South Alabama and Presbyterian, respectively, set for that date.Per game contracts, South Alabama is owed $1.5 million while Presbyterian is owed $500,000. It’s unclear if the SEC will pick up any portion of the buyouts.
“We are happy with the decision to have our game against Florida rescheduled for November 19 in Tiger Stadium,” Alleva said through an official release. “As previously reported, it was our wish to have played the game last weekend but all options that we put on the table were declined.”
Neither Florida nor LSU would have been eligible for the SEC Championship Game if the game hadn’t been rescheduled. LSU agrees to play the Gators in Gainesville in 2017 as well as the scheduled contest in 2018, according to the release.
The release also announced a change in league policy that’ll allow commissioner Greg Sankey power to reschedule league games when two schools can’t agree on a date.
“It was important for us to come to a resolution,” Sankey said through the SEC release. “Each university had its own set of concerns throughout this process, however existing SEC regulations did not provide an avenue to resolve conflicting issues in a more timely manner. As I have repeatedly said, this game needed to be played. In the end, I want to give credit to the University of Florida for making concessions to move this year’s game to Baton Rouge.”
Alleva added: “I want to thank the Southeastern Conference, in particular Commissioner Greg Sankey, for his efforts to make sure that we found a place on the schedule to play the game. This is a game that our players and fans look forward to each year and we are appreciative of the lengths that our league office went to in order to make this game happen.”
The news comes three days after Alleva drew a line in the sand that LSU wouldn’t lose a home game for the sake of making up the Florida game.
“The conference office asked us to find a solution in working with LSU, yet LSU was never a true partner in our discussions,” Florida AD Jeremy Foley said.
Tickets and parking passes for the South Alabama game will be valid for the Florida game, LSU announced. Those who bought tickets for the game in Gainesville will be refunded.
“Historically, we have always enjoyed a great relationship with Florida,” Alleva said. “We have great respect for their institution and their football program. I hope that we can all learn from this experience and as a league, be in a better position to deal with these situations in the future.”
I’m flattered that you liked my suggestion (posted Thursday night, October 6) for rescheduling the Florida game so much you featured it in the “Mailbag” section of this week’s issue.
Obviously, the SEC didn’t follow my proposal 100% but they did provide “added motivation” for LSU to give up its game with South Alabama. That motivation was playing Florida in Baton Rouge. However, that decision is like giving something with the left hand while taking something away with the right since LSU must play the Gators in Gainesville in 2017. That will give the Tigers an unbalanced SEC schedule – five on the road and only three at home.
All this because lame duck Florida AD Jeremy Foley refused to reschedule the October 8 game for either Sunday, October 9 or Monday, October 10 despite Joe Alleva offering to fly LSU’s team into Gainesville the morning of the game and return after the game so that no hotel accommodations would be needed. Georgia and South Carolina playing Sunday in beautiful weather with a stadium over 75% full put to shame Foley’s intransigence. (And Coach Jim McElwain is “shocked” that anyone would think UF didn’t want to play the game that weekend!)
Bottom line: Florida got more than it deserved when the mess it created was cleaned up.